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How to make a light box (on the cheap!)

The secrete to success on Etsy? Good pictures. It’s as simple as that. See, many shops spend hours a day or longer just to promote their brand. While this will always be a necessary part of the job as “Shop Owner” – You can make it much easier on yourself with this one simple change. Good pictures. See, if you have great pictures, people will promote your items for you. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that! This is especially important for Pinterest, considering it’s such an extremely visual site.

Keep in mind, the method in which you will eventually settle is right for your shop on the front of taking pictures will rely on many factors. Obviously you need to take the size of your items, your items substance (Glass is hard to photograph, but jewelry is generally easier – and good luck getting a light box large enough for a dress!) and what you need to show for your items to sell. This is simply one popular method – one  that is quite popular and works for a decent majority of shops.

Step 1 – The Light Box

The final product of a light box.

Light box is by far my FAVORITE method of improving pictures. It will leave you with professional images every time and is an extremely powerful tool to have in your etsy tool box.

What you need:

- A box

When selecting this box, make sure that it’s the proper size for your items, thicker boxes generally work better but anything will do. It should not be damaged.

- White Tissue Paper

The same tissue paper you get at a party store or grocery store, very thin and usually used to wrap small gifts. It must be white. Tissue paper will act as our light diffuser, this is the most important aspect of the light box (Well, obviously along with the box). It’s what makes your light source soft while evenly distributing it across your items. There are other fabrics and such people use as a diffuser, but I think tissue paper is the best. It distributes the most evenly from what I have used, it’s by far the cheapest, and overall works best. Tissue paper does, however, tear easily. With that, don’t be surprised if you find yourself ‘resurfacing’ it every now and again.

-Tape and glue.

I use masking tape. You can use packing tape, I just wouldn’t recommend normal office/scotch tape.  As for glue, I used Tacky glue. You could also use a Hot Glue Gun. Again, I don’t recommend office/elmers glue.

- Tools

Scissors, ruler, X- acto knife, a blade, anything that will make the job easier for you.

- White paper board

Unless the inside of your box is already perfectly white and even (Which, I doubt will happen),  you’re going to want to line it with perfect white paper.

- ***Light***

This is by FAR the most important thing you can do for your lightbox. This is also the most expansive. What you need is a Daylite Light Bulb. These are the ‘swirly’ bulbs that give off extremely annoying, white light. You can’t just get any ‘swirly’ CFL lightbulb and expect it to work. It HAS to be the Daylite light bulb, which is also sometimes sold as a “Sunshine” light bulb. It doesn’t matter, but when it lights up it has to light up extremely white.  Personally – I generally hate these lightbulb’s as the lighting they give off is unflattering in any home, however they are the only ones that work for photography with the exception of extremely expansive photography bulbs.

Assembly:

Cut a square about 2 inches away from the border. Repeat this on the top of the box and all four sides of the box. Do not do this to the bottom of the box. The end result should look a bit like this:

2. Take your white poster paper and cut it exactly to the sides and bottom of the box. Cover the whole so that it’s white. You don’t want cardboard in your images.  You will want to glue these into the box.

3. Cut your tissue paper to fit around the spaces on the box. When you have cut and or folded it to proper form, make sure you tape it on properly and securely.

4. You may cut a bit more of the white poster paper to size the back, you may now ‘curve’ it into your box. This will create a backing for smoother upright shots. For most of my pictures – I don’t use this, but you will want to for taller items that you would otherwise see the tissue paper.

Your box is done!  And should look a little like my own light box -

Light Box Image

Picture of my completed light box

Using your light box:

In this picture I’m taking my pictures at night time. Generally a mistake, but you may have to play around with it. Some items early morning works best (When the sun is shining BRIGHT inside), and others middle day where you get just enough sun works great.

Play around with position/number of lights and settings on your camera.

Play around with your lightboxs position on general! You have to get a feel of the light box!

Eventually all of your pictures should come out something like this;

An example of one of my photographs taken in a light box.

Step 2:

My cliff hanger for you! Next week I will share with you the next step in optimizing your pictures with analysis of options.

About DeweysNook

I'm Victoria, leader of the Pin Me team, which is a cooperative / co op Etsy team - http://www.etsy.com/teams/11864/pin-me I'm also the designer/manager/owner at Dewey's Nook, which sells keepsakes inspired by the old world and many unique items. deweysnook.etsy.com I further own/manage Clover's Books, a currently under construction antiquarian book shop on etsy, selling affordable books, many over 100 years old. cloversbooks.etsy.com My avatar is Dewey Dunkin, the namesake of Dewey's Nook. Photo taken by me :)

One comment on “How to make a light box (on the cheap!)

  1. Love this post! I AM going to try this at home! The photos make your instructions so easy to follow. I don’t know about you, but I always need visuals! Your posts are always so relevant. Thanks!

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